Tech skills shortage needs a micro-credential overhaul

James Riley
Editorial Director

Australian Services Union national secretary Robert Potter has called on the federal government to reform the nation’s tech education capability and proposes the better integration and regulation of micro-credentials and short courses.

Mr Potter told the Future Skills Organisation national forum in Melbourne on Thursday that the current model of tertiary degrees in computing and information technology will not deliver the tech workforce that the economy needs.

He has proposed a review of tech education in the same way that government is currently conducting its strategic review of the apprenticeship system.

Skills and training create opportunities, and millions of working families experience material security because of previous investments in delivering “skills for good, secure careers in growing industries,” Mr Potter told the forum.

But those opportunities and the living standards attached to them are under threat, and training policies have become fragmented, misaligned and bureaucratic.

“Critical shortages in fields like cybersecurity, AI, machine learning and software development will reach 370,000 by 2026, costing more than $3 billion a year,” Mr Potter said.

“Our lack of imagination in addressing this robs working Australians of a share in the prosperity that innovation creates and puts a handbrake on business competitiveness.”

At the 2022, both sides of politics committed to a target put forward by the Tech Council of 1.2 million tech jobs by 2030.

Since then, tech jobs have grown at twice the rate of other sectors, but there had been almost no growth in the number of skilled workers trained in in this country, he said.

A review of the Australia’s tech education capability that “seeks to integrate the benefits of high-quality short courses, micro-credentials and modular learning in tech skills into our regulatory architecture” would better enable the filling of those skills shortfalls.

“Last year UNESCO recommended reforms to national quality frameworks to provide ‘a regulatory system for micro-credentials, stipulating the conditions and standards for their recognition and stackability’,” Mr Potter said.

“This recognised the promise this training carries, if regulated for quality and harmony with current offerings. Many nations, and the European Union, are already advanced in this mission.

“Reform must also solve for equity. We must put people neglected by legacy systems at the front of the pack for new opportunities. Acting with intention and foresight, we can create new industries to power prosperity in the post-carbon economy.”

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